Willie's Friday Mailbag: June 11th, 2021

In last week's column, a coach asked: "Wrestling in pa is not growing. Lots of small towns are combining. What is one way we can help stop that decline?"

You can read my full response here, but part of the answer was that small town kids congregating to mega-power teams was a big factor.

Just a few days later, our Seth Duckworth reported that Kael Voinovich, my #6 overall Freshmen, would move to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Upon learning the news, the Athletic Director of Mustang, Oklahoma - a rival wrestling power, responded on Twitter with his disdain. It was since deleted but the gist included questioning the legality of NCAA and Oklahoma's high school athletic rules.

Kael is the younger brother of standout Victor Voinovich of Ohio who will wrestle for Oklahoma State next year. And to be clear there's been a pattern lasting two decades whereby the sibling of an OSU commit also moves into the state while in high school: The Rosholts, Chandler Rogers, Jordan Dieringer, and The Ferraris.

Call it what you want: 'tricky' or 'unique', 'creative' or 'unfair,' the attraction is the desire to be around family, a top notch high school program coached by former Wyoming Assistant Ethan Kyle, and of course the legacy of the 34-time team champ Oklahoma State Cowboys.

It's a system, it's above board, and it's the product of a century of success.

The bottom line is: you can not like it all you want, but to stop it you have to legislate it. Knock yourself out. There's no way any sane adults are going to ban a kid from participating for the rest of his career for transferring as an underclassmen. So you're really advocating for a one year suspension. As far as NCAA violations, that's a crock. As if the NCAA has any jurisdiction to tell a family where they can live. But hey, you do you, chief.

You may not like it - heck, I'm not sure if I 'like' it - but there's nothing you can do about it but put your head down and work harder. This is wrestling.

To your questions

What happened to Cox in Poland? - @NMCBootsy

That's a great question, and succinct. I'm glad to answer it because there's been nothing sort of vitriol on social media and message boards. The answer is simply: J'den lost a 2-1 match.

Stop freaking out.

J'den has been untouchable at 92kg winning the last two world titles in dominant fashion. He moved up to 97 for the Olympic Trials and dropped his first match back down at 92 against a guy that's frankly not in his galaxy. You do the math.

To be sure, it was a bad look for J'den who had to eat some humble pie after proclaiming he was going to go scorched earth from now on. But that doesn't mean the outlandish criticism is warranted nor that anything is 'wrong' with J'den.

He lost a match. Shit happens.

If you want to be (sensibly) critical, listen to what I've been saying for a couple years now - our guys often go out there to simply win and not separate from the competition. Jordan Oliver was better at the Last Chance Qualifier, but took too little risk. J'den was better in Poland but took too little risk. There's no earthly reason JO and J'den go scoreless in a first period.

But some of you are going way too far. Shut up. Be better.

This is an email I received from the father of one of my top freshmen in the country -


I wanted to say thanks for traveling around and posting video of the Cadet World Team Camp. While my son is not on the team, Coach Pack let him come up. I have not seen my son practice in awhile and it was fun to see video of him working out.

Have you ever thought about doing consulting to families with no wrestling background? Many of us have children who are good wrestlers, but do not know enough about the college coaches and the recruiting process. You know more about the personalities of these coaches than most others and are not affiliated with any program. There are some of us who would hire you to give advice on what programs to direct our kids to and what programs our kids may not be a good fit.

I know you are super busy and there may not be enough money in it to be worthwhile, but paying for time and advice is something I think many of us would be willing to do. Thanks again, I enjoy watching/reading your work. - Father of Ranked High Schooler

I hear this all the time. I heard it 10 years ago. And I heard it a ton after I left Flo. College coaches tell me this all the time.

But I love what I do now and I'm making a decent living. I wouldn't want to focus on one aspect and I surely wouldn't want to play matchmaker as a means to an end; if my heart wasn't into it.

I talk to parents and college coaches every day. They reach out, I try to help and offer guidance. It's one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do in that it creates lasting friendships and there's no money involved to spoil it.

Hit me up. It's my honor to help. But also I'd advise you to beware of 'services'. I haven't dug a whole lot into them - especially for wrestling - so I don't know enough about them. Perhaps it's irrational, but I don't know if I trust their objectives or insight.

On Mainstream Coverage of Olympic Sports

Last week Ro Ro Ro Your Boat was upset that they missed the majority of the actual competition from the US Championships in Gymnastics. And rightfully so.

In 2016, after Helen's win in Rio, I was incensed that the NBC 1) didn't show it on primetime, 2) instead doing a story on swimmers publicly urinating at a convenience store and 3) not even cleaning up their own mess by showing a clip of it on cable.

I was my typical best/worst self on Twitter blasting NBC, and the NBC's Olympic programming chief even fired back saying 'well, it was live online'.

The reality is that 1) NBC has the rights and 2) they serve up what is (unfortunately) the appetite of the masses - which is not sports itself but the human interest side of things even if that is often times a lame regurgitation of something we've all heard before, or worse, some freak show episode more befitting of a tabloid cover.

The Olympic format leaves a lot to be desired. NBC's coverage leaves a lot to be desired. And the consumption preferences of most people aren't the same as the die hard fans'.

Pasta Of The Week - Carbonara - For Chris Chionuma


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thelgiii (2) about 3 months ago
Good stuff Willie, and add a thanks for travelling to LOG for the camp!
ban basketball (1) about 3 months ago
Not to be such a food critic, but, regarding the carbonara, only salt should be added to berling pasta water, purely for flavor. Olive oil will coat your noodles upon draining, and, depending on what you're cooking, it leads to an overly oily dish.

Although a lesser reason as to why not to do something, but long pasta shouldn't be broken. It's made and designed to be wrapped around one's fork, thus holding more of the sauce.